Monday, December 17, 2007

moving on up

when i was in the 8th grade i got a book titled future stuff. published in 1989, the book profiled various "future" products that companies were developing to be released in the then-still-upcoming '90s. each product writeup included an estimated year of release (none later than 1999) along with the likelihood of the product ever hitting the market.

some of the predictions came true in one form or another. others, like carbonated milk, have failed to catch on. (for more about the book, visit this site, where someone has diligently analyzed every prediction in the book.)

one of the products profiled in the book was high-definition television: HDTV. HDTV was predicted to come out in 1994. that didn't happen, and while some HD sets did enter the market in the late '90s, they were prohibitively expensive and more importantly there was no HD content to watch on them for many years.

so i've been understandably underwhelmed by all the HDTV hype, because i've been hearing it for almost 20 years now. for years i believed that HDTV would never amount to anything more than a fringe medium, like betamax, laserdisc, or dvd-audio. and i might've been right... if congress hadn't gotten involved and mandated that broadcasters switch to digital by 2009.

but now, the HDTV zeitgeist is finally here. virago & i had been planning to replace the small old tv in the living room with one that we can actually see from the couch, so my parents decided to give us a new tv for christmas—or more precisely, give us the money to buy one.

we got it on friday—a 26" lcd from sharp. that's not huge, but it's bigger than the sets we were using. (i still have a 13" SDTV here in the office/studio, but that size is fine in here because i only sit 2 feet from the screen.) we also grabbed an upscaling dvd recorder so our DVDs will look as good as possible on the new set—i'm not about to buy an HD-DVD or blu-ray drive in the middle of a format war. in a couple years, if either format has survived, maybe i'll take a look then, but for now i'm quite satisfied with DVD, thanks.

this new setup meant watching yesterday's colts game in HD for the first time. unfortunately, CBS's HD feed cut out several times during the colts' initial drive, forcing us to watch much of the first quarter in SD. luckily, this horrible interference didn't last too long. as you've no doubt heard, the difference between watching the game in SD and watching in HD was stark: the game looked great. of course, it helped that the colts won.

there is one problem, though: the writer's strike means that a lot less programming is being made. what will we watch on our shiny new screen? i guess we'll be watching a lot of movies.


pgoyette said...

forgive my stupidity on the subject, but do normal dvds look ok on an hdtv? i thought that was the reason behind all these crazy blu ray discs that are out there.

stAllio! said...

our new dvd recorder does "upscaling", which means it has a dedicated chip that upsamples the video from SD resolution to HD resolution. in other words, it's designed to make dvds look as good as possible on an HDTV. what i've watched so far has looked great.

i'd imagine that even with an older dvd player, your dvds will look as good as or better than they look on an SDTV.

HD-DVD and blu-ray are actually recorded at HD resolution, rather than upscaled to HD size. so they should look noticeably better than dvd. but your dvds should still look pretty good.

Wilson46201 said...

In 1948 France adopted an analog black & white 819-line high definition TV broadcast system. It was finally scrapped in the 1980s in favor of the standard European 625-line PAL color system.

For that matter, the British 405-line system from 1936 was touted as high-definition TV!